Shelf Life is the first episode in a new video blog from the American Museum of Natural History, in which scientists, curators, and collection specialists take you behind-the-scenes at the Museum. Bonus interview: Atlas Obscura.
The Illusion of "Natural": In an excerpt from her new book On Immunity, Eula Biss deconstructs desires to flee from "toxins" and embrace what is "natural". Where the word filth once suggested, with its moralist air, the evils of the flesh, the word toxic now condemns the chemical evils of our industrial world. This is not to say that concerns over environmental pollution are not justified—like filth theory, toxicity theory is anchored in legitimate dangers—but that the way we think about toxicity bears some resemblance to the way we once thought about filth. [more inside]
The American Museum of Natural History will unlock thousands of old photos from their vault, they announced this week. The new online image database (officially launching on Monday the 28th) will take you behind the curtain, delivering images that span the 145-year history of the Museum. The collection features over 7,000 images—many never before seen by the public—and includes photos, rare book illustrations, drawings, notes, letters, art, and Museum memorabilia. They say "it’s like stepping into a time machine and seeing a long ago NYC or just catching glimpses of ghosts from a forgotten world now seen only by researchers and Museum staff." Previously. [more inside]
Are you sick of all those icky chemicals in your food? Now you're safe, with the totally chemical-free, all-natural bananas, blueberries and eggs.
Recently Emily Graslie, of the fantastic natural history tumblr and youtube series TheBrainScoop, was asked a question about whether she had personally experienced sexism in her field. Her response is fucking amazing.
Inside is her goldmine of awesome female science educators online with channels that focus on Science Technology Engineering and Math. My work day is fucked.[more inside]
To The Great God Pan
There is only one piece of film that shows Isadora Duncan dancing. It is four seconds long, the very end of a performance, and it is followed by eight seconds in which Duncan accepts applause. This small celluloid footprint – light-struck in the manner of Eugène Atget – contains quite a bit of information. It is an afternoon recital, early in the 20th century, and it takes place en plein air, trees in the background, like so much of the painting of the day. Duncan enters the frame turning, her arms positioned in an upward reach not unlike ballet’s codified fourth position, but more naturally placed. ... Because of her thrown back upper body it seems as if she is running, but she is actually slow and steady, offering herself to something so large she doesn’t need to move fast. The dance over, she stands simply and acknowledges her audience with a Christ-like proffering of her palms. In fact, her classical garb is as much that of the sandalled shepherd of men as it is a barefoot goddess of Greek mythology. ‘I have come,’ she once said, ‘to bring about a great renaissance of religion through the dance, to bring the knowledge of the beauty and holiness of the human body through its expression of movements.’ Thus spake Isadora.[more inside]
Huge collection of books related to permaculture, natural building, food, energy etc. at United Diversity.
You are likely already familiar with many of the arguments for and against marriage equality but here are cogent arguments for precisely why it is needed, unthreatening, and beneficial; patiently explained by a gay philosopher who recently spent quite a bit of time hanging out with NOM’s co-founder, Maggie Gallagher. [more inside]
"People prefer music that deviates from perfection in a natural way." Researchers into rhythm are trying to figure out the nature of these deviations, and what implications this has for audio engineering and neuroscience.
"Fake Cinnamon Joins Artificial Vanilla and Wins" So you think you know the difference between natural and artificial?
YOU are Invited to Watch My Natural Home Birth Live Online... Chiropractor and Natural Birth Coach Nancy Salgueiro announces plans to stream her homebirth live. Some videos of unassisted birth. Controversial anti-home birth blogger The Skeptical OB weighs in: "nothing says love, support and respect like an audience of strangers watching your crotch."
Is human history every bit as important and worth saving as natural history? William Cronon explained that the 1964 Wilderness Act and National Park Service policy separates "nature" and "culture" as two very distinct things. This attitude means that, in lots of places, the Park Service has actually torn down historic buildings and removed traces of past human habitation in order to make National Parks more "natural." The Apostle Islands, the northernmost part of Wisconsin, appears to be totally wild. But less than 100 years ago, it was thriving stone quarry that supplied building materials to NY, Chicago and other major metropolitan cities.
"The date of depletion of fossil fuels has been pushed back into the future by centuries -- or millennia."
"Everything you've heard about fossil fuels may be wrong: The future of energy is not what you think it is"
Over the course of three years, designer Christien Meindertsma tracked the products that had been made from the remains of a single pig. In doing so, she discovered that the skin, bones, meat, organs, blood, fat, brains, hoofs, hair and tail of a single pig might be used in more than 180 very diverse products, from shampoo, medicine, tattoo ink, munitions, cardiac valves, matches, desserts and bubblegum, beer and lemonade, car paint and brake discs to pills and bread. TED Talk. TED Bio. Vimeo video: Reading through the pages of Pig 05049. Exhibition (in Dutch). Design Observer: Pig 05049. Amazon: Pig 05049 [more inside]
Belleza sobrenatural (supernatural beauty) is a project from Elle Spain magazine featuring twelve (Spanish) beautiful women completely without makeup and without Photoshop enhancement; four of them appear on the covers. It's being picked up by other websites, but so far only in Spanish; I couldn't find any coverage in English. Meanwhile, the US version of Elle has the usual makeup/photoshop enhanced cover models. [more inside]
From the Wikipedia article:
Founded by Eliot Wigginton in the 1960s, Foxfire has published Foxfire Magazine continuously since 1966, and the highly popular Foxfire books since 1972. Both the magazine and books are based on the stories and life of elders and students, featuring advice and personal stories about subjects as wide-ranging as hog dressing, faith healing, blacksmithing, and Appalachian history.[more inside]
Last chance to see: Video of Mexico's Naica Cave of Crystals (Previously, and previously.) [more inside]
Peacay of BibliOdyessey highlights some stunning examples of Victorian Infographics from the Rumsey Map Collection(previously). (Direct Flickr link)
This is a fun little atheistic distraction: The interactive Blind Watchmaker applet demonstrates how random mutation followed by non-random selection can lead to interesting, complex forms. The Blind Watchmaker algorithm was conceived by Richard Dawkins and is described in his book of the same name. The resultant forms (which can begin to look like plants and bugs) are called "biomorphs," visual representations of a set of genes. [more inside]
The Barnett Shale, the largest onshore natural gas formation in America, is transforming Fort Worth, TX and surrounding areas. [more inside]
Richard Forty's Dry Store Room No. 1 describes the archives of the British Natural History Museum. Not on display, among other things, is Proustite, it is a compound of silver, arsenic and sulphur that forms as blood-red crystals that fade, poetically, when exposed to light.' Via Things Magazine.
Here are some ways to shrink your unnatural water- and gas-guzzling lawn and plant something that is beautiful and requires no water usage, no mowing, and is more likely to attract more interesting wildlife. With this much lawn in the U.S., and incessant water shortages, and other water issues and wars in our present and looming in the future, why not go native? Naturally, there are objections, since local ordinances often don't allow for natural prairie lawns, and the neighborhood stick-up-butt committees are quick to remove things they consider eyesores. What is your lawn worth to you?
Urban Scout. Sincere crusader for sustainable living or poseur hipster douchebag? [last link is google video]
Silphium was the wonder plant of the ancient world. Originally identified by Greek colonists in North Africa, the plant - a species of Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) - grew only in a dimunitive area near the coast and could not be cultivated. Silphium was popular as a spice for cooking, but its notoriety stems from its alleged medicinal qualities, particularly its use as an herbal contraceptive (the "I love you" heart symbol may have originated from the shape of silphium's seed pods and its use in sex). So valuable was Silphium that it became an important component of the ancient world's economy and appears on coins. It's also among the first species recorded (by Pliny the Elder) as going extinct, probably by grazing sheep or uncontrolled harvesting. Or is it?
TM without the ™. When he's not directing one of the best movies of the year or sitting on intersections with cows, David Lynch is a vocal advocate of Transcendental Meditation. In his new book Catching the Big Fish, he talks about the Box and the Key, meeting Fellini, the Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit, why he doesn't do DVD commentaries--and TM, which he calls "the experience that does everything." If you're intrigued by TM but sketched out by the organization and the $2,500 fee, perhaps you'd like to know that there is a cheap, downloadable alternative.
'Tsunami' born out of disaster A young mother gives birth to one child while losing track of another.
Birds do it, bees do it... homosexual attachment and lovemaking are widespread in the animal kingdom, say biologists like Bruce Bagemihl, author of "Biological Exuberance." [For a longer, better-edited version of the same article, go here, but NYT reg. required.] Not everyone agrees, particularly those apt to quote the Bible to justify claims of a "natural revulsion to perverse sex."